Candidates Round 3: Kramnik wins brilliancy

by André Schulz
3/12/2018 – The big winner of round 3 of the Candidates Tournament in Berlin is Vladimir Kramnik. With a powerful and brilliant attack, he won a crucial game with Black against Levon Aronian. The other three games of the round ended in a draw. With 2½/3 Kramnik is now sole leader. Tuesday is the first rest day in Berlin. The tournament resumes on Wednesday at 15:00 CET (10:00 AM EST) | Photo: World Chess

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Attention: the g-pawn is coming!

The Candidates Tournament in Berlin had a spectacular start. In round one three of the four games ended with a win, only Levon Aronian and Ding Liren drew, after the Armenian spoilt a good position.

Round two saw four interesting games but only one ended with a decision — Alexander Grischuk defeated Wesley So who thus started the tournament with two losses. Kramnik, who had White in his first two games, played against Sergey Karjakin, and was close to his second victory but could not overcome Karjakin's precise defence.

However, Kramnik seems to be extremely motivated and well-prepared — which also showed in his opening choice against Karjakin. He played 1.e4, a rare guest in Kramnik's repertoire. After all, during the press conference before the tournament, he had promised surprises and novelties. And he has Anish Giri as a second, a player who is known for his vast theoretical knowledge — and probably the strongest of all the seconds helping in Berlin. 

Berlin is Levon Aronian's fourth Candidates Tournament and in all the previous three he was one of the favourites — as he is in Berlin.

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian | Photo: World Chess

Aronian 0-1 Kramnik

In round three Aronian played against Kramnik with White. With 1.e4 e5 Kramnik invited Aronian to a Spanish and Aronian accepted. After 2.Nf3 Nc6 Kramnik opted for the Berlin (what else?) with 3...Nf6, which Aronian answered with 4.d3, the so-called "Anti-Berlin". After a couple of unspectacular moves, Kramnik suddenly came up with 7...Rg8, preparing to advance with g7-g5 because Aronian had played h3 — a rather common move in this line.


Aronian must have been pretty shocked and a few moves later he made a gross mistake:


Kramnik finished the game with a spectacular mating attack:


IM Sagar Shah uses ChessBase 14 and a few tools at his disposal to try and find out if ...Rg8 by Kramnik was a brilliant novelty or careless preparation by Aronian.

My Path to the Top

On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad, and how he undertook the Herculean task of beating his former mentor and teacher Garry Kasparov.

Video: World Chess

So ½-½ Ding Liren

Wesley So and Ding Liren also played a popular line of the Spanish, the Marshall Gambit. This opening has been deeply analysed but after 20 moves So came up with a new move.


However, this novelty did not really change the character of the position and the game ended like so many other games in the Marshall: with a draw.


Video: World Chess

Karjakin ½-½ Grischuk

In a Russian duel, Karjakin played against Grischuk, a Giuoco Pianissimo in the Italian. Grischuk had no problems with Black and after 30 moves the point was shared.


Video: World Chess

Caruana ½-½ Mamedyarov

Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov followed a long, well-known line in the English attack in the Sicilian Najdorf, which led to a sharp, double-edged position in which both players sent their queens foraging into the enemy camp.


A few moves later Caruana won the exchange.


However, Mamedyarov got a couple of pawns for the exchange and he had dangerous passed pawns on the kingside which nourished his hopes for a win. But in the end, the position was dynamically balanced — and ended in a draw.


Video: World Chess

Tuesday is the first rest day in Berlin. The tournament resumes on Wednesday at 15:00 CET (10:00 AM EST).

Standings after round 3:




Round-up show with IM Lawrence Trent

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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